New tricks

When I was at school, I did reasonably well at the subjects I enjoyed, while playing the class clown in those I found a little less interesting, I respond better to real life examples than text book scenarios.

Trigonometry is the prime example, the text book always asked for the angles of a shadow when a ladder was against a wall, for me, this was the mathematical equivalent of pushing a disliked food item around a plate with a fork, then, computers made an appearance into schools and I quickly became a fan of programming during lunch time computer club and as I became better at the concept of programming, I wanted to do more.
I wanted to write my name in a circle, I found that I needed trig for this and the subject became easy, I had found a real example for maths required, I COULD do this!

It is this flaw in my mindset that prevents me from taking to new ideas straight away, but I get there eventually.

More relevant to my interest in photography, I had never really embraced mobile phone photography, I had a ‘proper’ camera, why would I need to use the mobile phone?
Again my own reluctance is key, I have only had a smartphone in the last couple of years, a phone was for texting and calling, a PC was for emails and my camera was for photography.
Slowly but surely, my inner dinosaur has evolved and I am at the deep end in the modern tech pool, enjoying my new education in social media and mobile apps.

It was watching a photography video that I was introduced to Hipstamatic, an IPhone app that produces vintage photo effects with a use of simulated lenses and ‘films’, I bought the app and a few add ons, I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun this could be, something different from my usual idea that all photos have to be pin sharp to be worthy of publishing.

With a number of different editing apps installed on my tablet, I am embracing the mobility this gives me, I do not always want to sit at a desktop editing images, the fact that any photo I take on my phone will be ready for editing in an instant is so handy. this dog, has learned some new tricks.

 

Out with the X100

Some 8 years after its initial release, I have become a member of the X100 owners club.

My first foray into the X100 series, was a second-hand 100S, the second iteration, improving on many of the issues that plagued the original, I used my 100S until it failed me and was beyond repair physically and financially.

The 100S remains one of the best cameras I have ever used, just because I enjoyed using it, much as I do my 100F
Reading blogs and watching videos, many of the X100 owners have kept with the original X100, nearly all suggesting the ‘feel’ of the 12mp bayer sensor has a certain something, some saying an almost ‘filmic’ quality.

Fuijifilm are known for the way they listen to their customers feedback, the X100 was improved with later firmware, making a camera that was able to focus better and perform slightly faster but for some owners, the love/hate relationship was too much and their X100’s were sold or traded in for other gear.

Knowing all of the above, I have still wanted the try the original X100 for a number of years, yet despite the perceived faults, it still commands good money in second-hand markets, so I was unable to justify the expense.
Finally, last week my patience was rewarded with a purchase from a well known online market place and last weekend, my x100 arrived.

Due to me having to work over the weekend, I was only able to take a handful of shots with the new purchase but yesterday, I was finally able to give it its first real outing in my hands.

With the wealth of technology in todays modern cameras, I welcomed the back to basics functionality of the X100, no exposure preview in the EVF or the LCD, relying on the exposure meter within the display,  I was having to think about each shot, and become more methodical, but ultimately, I enjoyed taking every shot.

Between the showers, I had some lovely sunny spells, there was a gorgeous light throughout the day and as I looked at some of my efforts on my PC monitor, I was blown away with the image quality that 12mp sensor produces.
I can now see why so many persisted with working with their X100, when you get it right, the rewards are stunning.

I may have joined the X100 party eight years late but I am glad I have finally done so

Travelling light V2

In the years that I have been interested in photography, it is fair to say that I have not fallen into any one camp in terms of brand.
I have used Canon and Nikon, both of which have helped me to acqiuire the knowledge I have today, I have also used Sony, Panasonic,Fuji, and Olympus, from which I have had some wonderful images.

It is fair to say that I have experienced my share of G.A.S (gear acquisition syndrome), but I have an inquistive mind and enjoy experimenting with techniques and different gear, again, this has been an investment in my own self learning.
Part of the acquisition syndrome is seeing images from other photographers with a different camera brand, thinking that if I had the same gear, I could aspire to the same quality of image.

While being inspired by others is a good thing, it is easy to forget that perhaps that very photographer has been using that camera setup for years and that he or she  knows their lenses and camera gear inside out!

In terms of my own development over the years, I know that I prefer to shoot with prime lenses, with 35mm and 50mm being my two favourites.
I appreciate the convenience that a zoom lens offers, but I believe that I am a more creative photographer when I am challenging my own creative boundaries.

This brings me to my first ever Fuji Camera I used, the X-Pro1 with a 35mm 1.4 lens (52mm equiv).
Those that know their cameras, will remember the early xpro series and even the early x100 series of cameras being inherently slow with autofocus, but this was forgiven by the way that Fuji cameras render colours,along with that amazing image quality.

I used manual focus only with my own xpro1, this alone, helped to hone my composition, as I learned to work at the cameras pace, not my own previously frenetic speed.
300+ photos per shoot dropped to pretty much half that number, but I ended up keeping 95%  more of the images I took.

Enough of the back story, fast forward to last weekend, where once again I was deciding which lenses to pack for my Sunday trip, thinking how much easier it would be, to take just one camera in the bag.

For most of Sunday, I used just one camera body, despite packing 2, enjoying the creativity of the single focal length I was using.

It was using the one body, that made me realise just how many lenses I had collected and could not use them all, so decided to back to a camera I had liked in the past ….
100f
I had bought the X100s a few years previously from Ebay and had loved the quality from this 35mm equivalent lens.

This morning was the first day off I have had since my new purchase, so with just the single camera packed into the smallest of my camera bags, I was off in search of some images with the latest addition.

The mix of sunny spells and showers offered some great contrast and shadows, but the highlight of the day, was the feeling of freedom from deciding which lens to use, which camera body,  as I had just the single option.


Above are a selection of todays shots, I have already resolved to take just this one camera with me on my next holiday in October

Travelling light

Over the years, I have dabbled with many different makes of cameras, always hopefully, looking for the best one I could possibly afford, and yes, of course I have coveted full frame and Leica cameras.

The full frame dream became a reality a few years ago, having acquired the Legendary Nikon D700, an absolute tank of a camera but with the ability to produce some really good images.

But here lies the issue,  I found after a while that I was taking my smaller mirrorless cameras out more than the Nikon, just because of the weight.

Over the last 12 months, my mindset with regards to the importance of sensor size has changed, so much so, that for my personal photography I use Micro four thirds cameras.
I still have a full frame camera but this is used mainly for work shoots, where I like the extra resolution and low light performance for the bulk of my shots, but the close up images are taken with the M43 gear.

Just recently, I have added a little gem to my M43 list, the Lumix LX100, a camera ticks the take everywhere box, its 24-75mm equivalent lens, has a fast f1.7 aperture and lurking inside, is the m43 sensor!
lx100

Using the LX100 is a pleasure, great for those days when a good hike without a bag of gear is required.

I have managed some really good candid shots with the LX100, to all intents, it looks like a compact snapshot camera, but produces some quality shots!

50mm lens challenge – second outing

Today saw just my second outing of my self imposed single lens challenge

I prepare for each outing the evening before, where possible, so batteries are charged, and I would normally select a camera bag based upon the lenses I would normally choose to take with me.

The one lens challenge makes this ritual easy, the smallest camera bag I own with a couple of spare batteries and a lens cloth!

I am beginning to appreciate the versatility of this focal length.
With decent wide apertures, 50mm can create some lovely soft focus close up shots, but stopped down to F8, I can also get some good landscapes.

With overnight rain and a promise of some early sun, my hope was to catch water droplets on flora with a little of the diffused morning light.
I was not disappointed.

At just the second outing I am ‘seeing’ the shot in my minds eye, before I have the camera switched on, I honestly thought this process would take longer.

The only time I really wished for another lens, was for the butterfly, but in all honesty, I am really happy with the shot I got before it flew off, and at no other time did I feel I was missing out.

Using vintage lenses

My enjoyment of photography leads me to reading and researching a lot about the latest advances in photographic technology, or just reading about how other photographers approach their work.

One such article caught my interest about 18 months ago, a former pro photographer was using his old film camera lenses on his digital camera with the help of an adaptor.

Many of todays mirrorless cameras facilitate such adaptors very easily, so I set about a little more research, eventually acquiring such an adaptor for my Xpro 1 Camera.

The adaptor (M42 screw mount) cost around £15 (no electronics for autofocus) , the lenses anywhere between £10 and £75 – this being my pre defined budget, some of the more sought after vintage lenses will command a lot more in terms of price, but there are some little gems to be found even in the lower price range.

My first acquisition was the much talked about (in forums and such) Russian Helios lens, a 58mm F2 (helios 44-4), a well built lens that at shallow depths of field, produces a swirly bokeh that is liked by many

At F2 the images can be soft around the edges but stopped down, it is a lovely lens to use, especially for portraits.

I really enjoy the tactile experience of a manual focus lens, it has taught me to be more deliberate in my approach to a shot.
Yes, there are times when I have missed certain shots that a modern autofocus lens would have nailed, but somehow, the shots you do get feel like a reward.

It is strange to think that when these lenses were the technology of their day, the lens flare and the faded rendering of colouring of the odd one or two, were considered to be flaws, now we have a more nostalgic view of them, it is called character.

Over the last few months I have acquired a number of lenses, the ones above being in my ‘most used’ section.

Of course, they will not be for everyone, today’s lenses are pin sharp, machine made precision products, with fast autofocus and for wedding photography, I would reach for the native lens without a doubt but for my own enjoyment, vintage lenses have taught me to enjoy photography even more.